#35. October: Ten Days That Shook the World (1928)

I fucking hate this movie. I’ve been trying with every other movie on the List to be open-minded, respectful, and I really do think that this was the attitude with which I approached October (the third movie from Sergei Eisenstein on the List), but good grief am I sick of this guy’s shit. As with Battleship Potemkin before it, and Strike before that, there are no characters in this movie. People run around and do things but they never appear to have a conversation that serves any purpose save to advance the story (such as it exists), settle them into archetypes, and highlight the agenda their creator is pushing. (I was working on a later draft when Pavel, my movie critic friend, suggested this might be a staple of the socialist aesthetic: there is no self, only the collective).

After the first fifteen minutes of October had baffled the shit out of me I decided to pause it and read up on the October Revolution and about Russia’s disastrous performance in World War I, how citizens were starving to death in the streets. After a bit of reading I returned to the movie with a better idea of the history it’s depicting and yeah, no, October is still fucking impenetrably boring and it’s gushing with, what?, self-righteousness? Something. Like I guess it’s the sort of pretension that surfaces when a filmmaker achieves enough renown to say, “I’ll make this movie, take it 100% in my own direction, and I’ll make zero effort to embrace the audience — let them work toward me.”

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Good lord I fucking hate this movie. I get that Eisenstein’s editing techniques were groundbreaking, fine, but do we need to venture to the point in his career whereby the man’d finally achieved such artistic contortions as to fellate himself (I’m speaking metaphorically but, now that I’ve written it out, I’d definitely rather see that on screen than what’s here)? We’ve already got his first two movies on the List, and I see another of his movies (God help us, it’s two volumes) on the horizon. I don’t understand what October could add to a person’s film education that couldn’t be gleaned by Strike and Battleship Potemkin together. Unless — and I do see some merit to this — you wanna say that an integral part of understanding a medium is to study its great failures. Because if that’s the case, holy shit, this movie’s a fucking cornerstone. Or maybe if you don’t wanna call it a failure you could say, “the instance where an aesthetic was carried to its extreme.”

I’ve got a friend who pays for a cable thing that comes with like a thousand free movies that you can watch On Demand but, still, he tells me constantly that there’s nothing to watch, that the service sucks, when meanwhile every time I try browsing the titles I end up just turning it off and going outside because I’m too indecisive. So I heckle my friend about how he ought to venture out of his comfort zone, try new kinds of movies, but he insists there’s no point. Everything is bad. He’d rather watch Jaws for the thousandth time, and then complain about “having to” watch it, than take a risk on something new.

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Hate this guy so much.

I give him a pretty hard time about that and so I do feel kind of bad to be saying here that I’m not even gonna try to get different perspectives on October. It’s the third consecutive movie that I’ve hated from this filmmaker and I just don’t give a fuck anymore about other people’s reasons for why I should subject myself to his body of work. I’ll watch whichever of his other films show up on the List but, fuck it, I’ll be drunk when I do, and I’m not taking notes.

Never again, man. Not even fucking once.

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